help users plan for the future, and integrate group and personal accounts more smoothly
I want to preface this by saying that I think your work is great, and I'm giving you this feedback because SplitWise is obviously a powerful tool with a lot of potential -- and I want to help you harness that potential for good. At the moment, SplitWise is enabling consumer debt rather than combating it, and I want to share my personal experience of how I'm watching that play out. Unless you're in cahoots with those who make their money off of consumer debt and are therefore doing this on purpose, read on!
Using SplitWise actually makes it much HARDER for me to track and plan my money. I only use it because I moved into a house that uses it for group expenditures. So every time someone spends money for the house, it goes onto Splitwise. This means a few things. First of all, it means that when I pay someone back, it's for a whole host of things: utilities (we actually scratched that off Splitwise because it was too hard to manage, and the balances that people were carrying were too high for comfort), groceries, household supplies, etc. So while I want to be keeping track of how much I spent on each of those things individually, it's hard to do because my bank just reads it all as one transaction and it's hard to split it up. It gets cloudy and complicated very fast -- and that's coming from someone who does not carry debt and is pretty good at managing her money. While I'm not technically supposed to know this, I do know that this system is making it very hard for one of my housemates to pay of cc debt.
Secondly, because it all "just goes on SplitWise," we spend too much. We have a weekly budget for groceries, but Splitwise doesn't tell us how much of it has been spent. So people will sometimes just buy something, not realizing that other people have also bought things, and then we're over budget.
Finally, because it's an online platform, it's eroded our communication. So people seem to think it's fine to just buy stuff for the house, and it's all good, because they don't actually have to have a conversation and confrontation about it -- they "just put it on SplitWise" and assume that it's fine. Which obviously it's not, but it's very very hard to combat that. And then once that happens and the conversation is in Internet territory, it's SO FUCKING HARD to bring it back down to earth and have a conversation in which people are being real with each other and not hiding behind their Internetty defenses. I think that a big chunk of this last issue has to do with the fact that SplitWise is designed to deal with what has already happened, and not to plan for the future. (This is the recipe for consumer debt disaster.) If my house could all sit down together at the beginning of the month and plan out our expenses together on Splitwise, I think that would be a massive step forwards.
Thanks for listening! I hope this is helpful, and I'd be happy to answer specific questions if you have them.
So sorry for the trouble, and thanks for the thorough feedback!
I agree that Splitwise isn’t very good at budgeting right now – we help people keep an accurate record of how much they owe each other, but we don’t do much to rein in total spending or to coordinate spending by multiple individuals. We’d definitely like to add more budgeting-conscious features in the future, so hopefully that’s something we can work on!
For now, we do have a few features that may help you with basic budgeting tasks:
- On the web, you can view a category-by-category breakdown for each month’s spending. Go to a group, then click the “Trends” button at the top of the right sidebar, and then click the “More details” link in the sidebar.
- On our mobile apps, you can get a quick look at a group’s total spending on the “Group totals” screen. You can find this under the “More” menu on iOS, or under the “…” menu in the upper right on Android.
- If you’d like to do more detailed number crunching, you can export any group’s expenses to a spreadsheet, including the cost and category for every expense.
Hope that helps a bit! Hopefully we can introduce future improvements to Splitwise that make it easier to spend responsibly and keep an eye on your budget.